Last portrait by Gustav Klimt sells for record £85.3 million

Dame Mit Facher (Lady With A Fan), the last portrait by Austrian artist Gustav Klimt (Sotheby’s/PA)
Dame Mit Facher (Lady With A Fan), the last portrait by Austrian artist Gustav Klimt (Sotheby’s/PA)

The last portrait painted by artist Gustav Klimt before his death has sold for £85.3 million (108.4 million dollars) at a London auction.

Sotheby’s said the sale of Lady With A Fan (Dame Mit Facher) in New Bond Street is a new record for Klimt and has become the most valuable work of art sold at auction in Europe.

Helena Newman, auctioneer and chairman of Sotheby’s Europe said: “Dame Mit Facher (Lady With A Fan) is an absolute testament to Klimt’s artistic genius – a work that captured the imagination of everyone who saw it.

“It was an honour to see that high level of enthusiasm play out here in London tonight, and to see the painting so hotly pursued.

“And it was, of course, the greatest honour to bring down the hammer on a work that has, quite fittingly, made auction history.”

The auction house said that after ten minutes bidding between four art lovers the work went to a collector from Hong Kong.

In 2010, the auction house sold Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti’s bronze sculpture L’homme Qui Marche I (Walking Man I) for 104.3 million dollars (£65 million) in London.

Austrian artist Klimt, also known for The Kiss (Der Kuss), died unexpectedly in 1918 at the age of 55.

Klimt started work on Lady With A Fan in 1917, by which time he was among the most celebrated portraitists in Europe, receiving commissions at prices far higher than his contemporaries.

The painting was acquired shortly after his death by Viennese industrialist Erwin Boohler, whose family was close friends and patrons of both Klimt and fellow painter Egon Schiele.

It was last sold at Sotheby’s in New York in 1994 for £7.8 million – which set a record for the artist at the time.

His Birch Forest artwork fetched 104.6m dollars (£81.6 million) last year when it was sold at Christie’s.